“From informative presentations to lively discussions: Gold traceability, Due diligence, new ASM Regulation, and draft amendment of the Minerals Law”
Alongside the Precious Metal Traders National Association and Misheel Expo LLC, the planetGOLD Mongolia project co-organized the Precious Metals and Jewellery Forum and Expo in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, from April 12-16, 2023.
The forum was hailed as a successful opportunity for networking and information exchange. It attracted about 60 participants from the stakeholders of the artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector, including artisanal gold miners, related federations, jewellery makers, traders, and the state organizations’ representatives. Prior to the forum and during breaks, the venue was filled with a positive energy as participants spoke and chatted with each other in the auditorium.
It was generally set up with speeches in the first section and a large panel discussion in the last. Overall, the approval of the new ASM regulation (August 2022)—on which the planetGOLD Mongolia project closely collaborated and produced comprehensive and fundamental recommendations—and a draft amendment to the Law on Minerals, which is scheduled to be discussed in the Parliament of Mongolia soon, were the "hot" topics at the forum. Most speakers and panelists concurred that the proposed amendment to the Law on Minerals should take the ASGM sector into consideration, and the new ASM regulation has a significant positive impact on the sector's development.
"According to the new ASM legislation, which is extremely appropriate at this moment, artisanal gold miners must register with the taxation authority,” said Taxation Agency’s officer Mr. Ch.Battsengel “The term "small-scale businessman" rather than "artisanal small-scale miners" is used in the draft amendment to the Law on Minerals; it must be described just as it is-artisanal miners. Due to the clear rules developed from 2010–2011, 80–90% of artisanal miners were involved in taxation”.
"ASM wasn't mentioned in the draft amendment of the Law on Minerals, so it is raising an ambiguous situation that small-scale mining is not legally regulated” remarked Ms. Khishgee Dondov, Field Coordinator at the planetGOLD Mongolia project. Then she highlighted that “What will happen for individuals working for this sector if the law will be enact as is? Illegal operations must be taken into consideration if these small-scale miners are to be banned. The risk of being placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)'s grey list again will rise in its wake.” Also, she highlighted that "In ASGM, the formalization is not limited to the legal environment but is understood in wider terms of providing formal participation opportunities to actors and stakeholders in the gold supply chain. Along with the formalization, the project also promotes the terms of professionalization in the ASGM sector as it is a part of the supply chain and needs to behave responsibly."
In ASGM, the formalization is not limited to the legal environment but is understood in wider terms of providing formal participation opportunities to actors and stakeholders in the gold supply chain. Along with the formalization, the project also promotes the terms of professionalization in the ASGM sector as it is a part of the supply chain and needs to behave responsibly.
planetGOLD Mongolia Field Coordinator Khishgee Dondov
Ms. Uyanga Amartuvshin, the Financial Regulatory Commission's expert, addressed the FATF's grey list of risk, and she said, "According to researches by international organizations, incidents of money laundering have increased in recent years in the trading of precious metals, precious stones, and other goods made from them. The ASGM sector is vulnerable to money laundering and financing terrorism.”
Overall, the discussion's tone indicates that all parties agree that the ASGM sector must be addressed in the proposed change to the Law on Minerals and that the new ASM regulation is showing favorable results.
Among other presentations, the one given by Ms. Delgermaa Ganbaatar, planetGOLD Mongolia Investment Officer, was particularly noteworthy. She pointed out the risks of non-traceability while highlighting the ASGM sector's legal gaps and its upstream-to-downstream gold supply chain. It was important to clarify how Mongolian laws and regulations regulate gold traceability and record-keeping at this forum.
Numerous media outlets and journalists kept "eyes" on the forum. In an exclusive interview with Bloomberg TV Mongolia, Mr. Altanbagana Bayarsaikhan, planetGOLD Mongolia Project Manager, spoke about the impact of the ASGM sector on Mongolia's overall economy and importance of due diligence. Other TVs and writers were also interested in the risk of being put on the FATF's "grey list" due to traceability issues in gold mining, as well as the lack of formalization in the ASGM sector.
As for the forum's overall liveability, the panel discussion on "Participation of the state organizations to solve challenges facing the stakeholders of the ASGM sector" was the most well attended. There were ten panelists in total, representing all the main stakeholders, including the Bank of Mongolia, the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Authority of Mongolia, the Financial Regulatory Commission, the Precious Metal Assay and Inspection Department, the Customs Agency, Taxation Agency, the Artisanal and Small-scale Mining National Federation (ASM NF), the Evt Association, the Tumen Erdenes Association, and the planetGOLD Mongolia project. The conversation quickly became vibrant and productive. Ms. Azbileg Davaatseren, Executive director of the Precious Metal Association, did an excellent job of moderating the discussion and emphasizing the significance of gold traceability.
The panelists discussed a wide range of topics, from the taxation of jewellery made from precious metals, licensing requirements for customs clearance, gold refinery, and the sale of refined gold to the importance of implementation of standards, the creation of strategic plans, and value chain analysis to determine areas of concern. As a whole, it allowed all parties involved to hear the other side's problems and the reality in person, which could have a positive effect on mutual understanding.
Although last year's forum (the very first) focus was on the sector’s need for the new ASM regulation, this year's discussion of the positive aspects, concerns, and suggestions for future improvement of the approved ASM regulation pointed to the forum's positive influence. The planetGOLD Mongolia project and all other stakeholders are hopeful that the sector’s development and legal environment will improve as a result of these types of talks, and we will have another achievement to celebrate next year, when we meet again to organize the 3rd Precious Metal and Jewellery forum.
From miners to makers: Precious metals sector shines
The expo took place from April 13th to 16th, with roughly 60 entities from various disciplines participating, including jewellery makers, sellers, official brand distributors, and government and non-government organizations, namely Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry, Financial Regulatory Commission, Bank of Mongolia, Precious Metal Assay and Inspection Department, Precious Metal Association, and ASM NF and the planetGOLD Mongolia project. B.Otgontuvden, an artist, also showed his artworks to highlight the topic of cultural heritage. As a further promotional tool, many jewellery stores and artisans gave discounts up to 50%.
The Precious Metal and Jewellery and Metal Expo 2023 was a great success. Visitors were surprised to find not only jewellery vendors but also cultural heritage exhibitors, government representatives, and other organizations like the planetGOLD Mongolia project, providing the possibility to see everything at once and gain a more holistic understanding of the precious metals sector.
planetGOLD had a stunning blue booth that stood out among the other booths. Visitors' attention was drawn to the gold ore and tailings being displayed on the table, which everyone was eager to touch and have a closer look at. With the simple question "What is that?" came the opportunity for us to introduce the project and provide more information on the ASGM sector in Mongolia.
Most visitors initially expressed negative understandings of the ASGM sector and small-scale miners, but after hearing some of the project staff's responses, seemed to shift to a more positive outlook. Additionally, many of the visitors who stopped by our booth remarked and appreciated the establishment of mercury-free processing systems, which the planetGOLD Mongolia project has been building in Mandal soum and Tunkhel village of Selenge province in Mongolia. This live event provided a unique opportunity to connect with the public and get their perspectives on the topic at hand.
In contrast with the ongoing event, our social media pages received some traffic as well, where our followers were asking questions and sharing messages about the sector and the events. From the perspective of the expo, visitors, government officials, and other stakeholders felt that the ASGM industry is interconnected with the lives and livelihoods of countless people across the gold supply chain. Thanks to the expo event, the planetGOLD Mongolia project was able to network with other stakeholders, while the project activities and implementation have also been brought to the attention of government entities.
The words of support and positive wishes from the visitors and partners received during the Expo and the Forum will be our reason to stand firm for our end goal- Making a world of difference in small-scale gold mining!
About the planetGOLD Mongolia project
The planetGOLD Mongolia project is funded by the Global Environment Facility, led by the United Nations Environment Programme and United Nations Industrial Development Organization and executed by the Artisanal Gold Council in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of Mongolia.
The project is working towards the formalization and professionalization of artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) sector in Mongolia, including the elimination of mercury use in gold processing. The team is working with various stakeholders along the gold supply chain – miners, gold traders, local and national governments as well as civil society – to sustainably improve artisanal mining operations as an important economic opportunity for remote communities and to support the revision of regulations governing the sector. In partnership with the national government, the project team is working to create an enabling environment for a formalized artisanal mining sector that enhances community development, improves productivity and eliminates the use of mercury.
For more information about the AGC, visit their website at https://www.artisanalgold.org/
For more information about the planetGOLD project, please visit www.planetgold.org/Mongolia and please contact Ms. Enkhtuul Altangerel, planetGOLD Mongolia Communications Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.